|Are the Patriots Still Legitimate Super Bowl Contenders Without TE Rob Gronkowski?||Notes and Observations Week 14: Patriots Mount Another Improbable Comeback; Beat Browns 27-26||Connelly’s Top Ten – Patriots Stink but Exciting; Poor Gronk||Patriots Lose Gronk But Complete Miraculous Comeback to Beat Browns, 27-26|
1. Oklahoma (32)
Without a game this week, the Sooners became the first school to be ranked No. 1 in 100 AP polls. That achievement has very little bearing on this year’s team, but it impressive nonetheless. Good for them. They have a massive game at Florida State Saturday, and with a win they could make the claim that they deserve to be a unanimous No. 1.
2. Alabama (9)
After a predictable game with Penn State, Alabama jumped back over LSU. They don’t play each other until Nov. 5, and it seems very possible that they will jump each a couple more times without either team losing a game, thus giving another example of just how subjective these polls are. If nothing else, the voters must have terribly short memories, “LSU beat a Top 5 team, but Alabama beat a Top 25 team more recently, so they must be better!” Why did they even vote LSU No. 2 last week?
3. LSU (17)
After a bye week against Northwestern State this week, the Tigers play five ranked teams in their next seven games. Along with the normal SEC gamut, they have to go to West Virginia. This might be the most exciting stretch of Les Miles blunders in his entire career.
4. Boise State (2)
With no game this week, the Broncos were not in the public consciousness. This hurts them more than any other team, because they weren’t able to put an exclamation mark on their win over Georgia. The other teams in the Top 5 all have games against other teams in the Top 5, while Boise State only has maybe-ranked TCU left on its schedule. With the persistent doubt they face, they won’t have many opportunities to wow the country, so they need to grab onto every opportunity they get. With a bye week this week, they lost all the momentum they gained from their win in the Georgia Dome. Basically, the odds are stacked so far against Boise State that they not only need to go undefeated to make the BCS Championship, they might want to think about doing away with bye weeks as well.
5. Florida State
The Seminoles have outscored their two opponents 96-10 this season. They’ve also not really challenged themselves. In fact, there’s a decent chance that Oklahoma had a more taxing week in practice than Florida State did in preparation for their game. Even if they didn’t, the extra week Oklahoma had to prepare will be huge.
8. Oklahoma State
9. Texas A&M
While Texas A&M took the week off to fight with a Baylor (whose outlier status I predicted last week), Stanford crushed Duke in a Spelling Bee. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State and Wisconsin crushed Pac-12 schools. Nebraska played this clump’s only competitive game, outlasting Fresno State and their any time, anywhere mantra. It seems so long ago that Fresno State was the country’s hot non-AQ program.
11. South Carolina
13. Virginia Tech
15. Michigan State
South Carolina beat Georgia, whose season has started both predictably and “disastrously.” After beginning the season ranked No. 19, they’ve lost to teams that are currently ranked No. 4 and No. 11 in the country, and they were in both games. It is understandable that they are no longer ranked, but if the rankings mean anything, those losses were both expected. They deserve some sympathy.
17. Ohio State
18. West Virginia
20. South Florida
Who anticipated Baylor being so pushy? They had a bye this week, which they used to fight Texas A&M. If football players weren’t mostly mindless automatons, their game on Oct. 15 might be the best Big 12 game of the season.
22. Arizona State
25. Mississippi State
The Longhorn Network is the core issue pushing conference realignment forward. Texas is a massive football power, to the point that they agreed on their own TV deal with ESPN. They’re like Notre Dame, but good at football. Despite this central role, their performance on the field does not reflect that dominance this season. Instead, they seem like a small family outlet. They’ve only been good enough to stay on the fringe of the Top 25, and in this week’s game, there were significant passes from Case McCoy (brother of star quarterback Colt) to Jaxon Shipley (brother of star receiver Jordan). On top of that, Colt and Jordan were best friends. UT has the entire state of Texas at its disposal, why are they so reliant on those two families?